Christ’s exhortations to “…endure unto the end, and the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13) or, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luk. 21:19) are not exhortations that are dealing with eternal salvation from the debt and penalty of one’s sins. Whether it be in Matthew or Luke the context is not spiritual salvation or justification unto eternal life, rather “when shall…the end of the world…be?” (Matt. 24:3), or “behold, the days will come” (Luk. 21:6).
The Days to Come
These days to come were not some general days of persecution. These days were long prophesied about. Detail upon detail, event upon event were foretold. Peter testifies to this in 1 Peter and his opening chapter. One of the prophets included in whom Peter is referring to is Daniel. Daniel enquired and searched diligently regarding the time until the God of heaven set up His kingdom on the earth. Yet, Daniel was intrigued about the timing of the end, or the sufferings and the glory. He, much like the apostles asked, when would the end be that would result in God setting up His kingdom? In Daniel chapter 7 we read of Daniel’s visions, one in which, we see in verse 18, “…the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” Yet, later in chapter 12, in verse 21, we learn that prior to the saints taking the kingdom, that Daniel, “…beheld, and the same horn (the man of sin) made war with the saints, and prevailed against them”.
Another prophet that prophesied about this generation was Jeremiah. In Jeremiah chapter 30 and verse 7 we read,
“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.”
Jeremiah speaks not of Israel’s general resurrection of the saints of old, but the physical salvation of the generation going through Jacob’s trouble. The Lord with His hosts will “break his yoke from off thy neck”, “burst thy bond”, resulting in the “strangers…no more serve themselves of him” (:8). Ultimately, all this will provide for “Jacob [to] return”, “be in rest”, and “be quiet” (:10). The salvation will save the little flock out of that day of trouble and put them “in rest”. Yet, Jeremiah doesn’t describe the mechanics of that salvation – such salvation will find it in the working of a provision of the New Testament and fulfilled at the end, at His appearing.
Provision of the New Testament
Beyond numerous features and details of the New Testament is that God would provide His “spirit”. It is important to note that the Holy Spirit would be instrumental in the provision of God’s “spirit”; however, it would be the Lord, which is that Spirit that would teach that “spirit”. In fact, God put His own “spirit” upon Jesus when the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove (Matt. 12:18; Isa. 11:2). The Father’s “spirit” would be manifest in what Christ would teach. Christ said,
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
Christ taught God’s “spirit” and His words were spirit; that is, the Father’s mind, His thoughts, His understanding when it concerns all things at the time. Our focus is specific to godliness; that is, how they were to think and act in various situations. This provision was part and parcel of the New Testament or as John puts it,
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” ~ John 1:17
The particular situation was in fact the prophesied “times and seasons”. This situation that we have considered and the one the Lord taught them how to think, respond, and act in, thus manifest godliness. This situation, of course, would be in “the days to come”, “the day of the Lord”, “the day of wrath”, or “the time of Jacob’s trouble” to name a few descriptors of that time.
Patient Enduring Soul Possession
Christ taught them about godliness in relationship to producing fruit that would accompany their justification unto eternal life by believing that Jesus was the Christ. He taught this in numerous places. One of those places was in the parable of the sower and the seeds. In Christ’s interpretation of the parable, a significant point is brought up in Luke 8:14-15,
“And that which fell among thorns are thy, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
The good and honest heart that brings forth fruit with patience is bringing fruit to perfection (Heb. 13:21; Jas. 1:4, 2:22, 3:2; 1 Pet. 5:10). Notice that some seeds fell among the thorns of “cares and riches and pleasures of this life”. This life are during the days to come, the days of trouble, hence they will care about the riches and pleasures of this life. The point, some of the fruit of the little flock will not, in that day, possess patience and will not bring fruit to perfection as they will be concerned with the cares of the world.
Is this not what Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 1:3-9,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
This “incorruptible inheritance, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” is what they need to possess in order to have patience and bring fruit to perfection, not the cares of the world – riches, and pleasures. Remember, Christ said in Matthew 6:19-21, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Christ spoke this in the context of “reward” in the kingdom (Matt. 6:18). Peter says, “for a season” they were and will be going through “manifold temptations”, that the trial of their faith would be more precious than of gold, more precious than the riches of the world. The trial of their faith would be found unto “praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”.
The little flock’s patience is how they possess their souls, that is, how they will endure physically unto the end of those times and seasons thus receive the salvation of their souls, the end of their faith. They will be able to have godly patience through Christ teaching them about it. One certain doctrine is to think of the resurrection, their lively hope, their incorruptible inheritance that will provide the good and honest heart in which to bring fruit to perfection and not be choked by the seasonal cares of the riches and pleasures of the world.
This matter is a major doctrine in the gospel accounts and in the Hebrew epistles, Hebrews through The Revelation. Yet, because Paul is an able minister of the New Testament in this dispensation of the grace of God he teaches them in accord with the mystery of Christ. In the coming weeks, we will examine even more the necessity for the little flock to possess their souls in patience. We then will conclude by looking at this principle in connection with the apostle to the Gentiles, the apostle Paul writes.
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher